What does legal counsel do

What does a lawyer do?

Activities of a lawyer

A lawyer acts as legal advisor in all legal matters before authorities, courts or, for example, arbitral tribunals. As a lawyer, you have the task of helping your respective client or client to obtain their legal rights by means of appropriate legal means. Therefore, lawyers can represent virtually any person or group of people, as long as there are no representation bans. The so-called partisan representation of interests is regarded as the professional characteristic of a lawyer. As part of a comprehensive consultation, you will inform the client about the respective case-specific legal situation, the corresponding chances of success, the costs incurred, the possibilities with regard to the preservation of evidence and the cost risk associated with the case. The Federal Lawyers' Act (BRAO), which is authoritative for a lawyer, defines a lawyer as an "autarkic organ of the administration of justice", which acts as an independent representative and advisor in all legal matters. According to BRAO, a lawyer should accompany his clients in shaping the law, settling disputes and avoiding conflicts, protecting them against unconstitutional impairment, protecting them from wrong decisions by the authorities and courts and protecting them against state transgressions.

It is fundamentally important that you, as a lawyer, have the appropriate skills, such as above-average written and oral expression, logical thinking skills or the ability to abstract. Your goal is always to help your respective client to his / her rights - using all available legal means. Your tasks are complex in nature.

Your area of ​​activity usually includes the following segments:

  • Legal structuring in transactions, contracts or other cases. Without legal help, important legal transactions in the economy, for example with regard to drafting contracts, would be extremely difficult to implement.
  • Provide comprehensive information to those seeking legal advice about the possible claims and counterclaims.
  • Conclusion of corresponding out-of-court settlements.
  • Act as a mediator, whereby you do not work exclusively for one party or one person.
  • Out-of-court enforcement of case-specific claims (for example through legal cease and desist letters).
  • Providing legal aid for litigation (legal statements, clarification of facts, etc.).
  • Carrying out explicit procedural acts (example: concluding comparisons, raising objections, filing legal remedies, etc.).

In the video: Sigrun Plattner, lawyer

How do I become a lawyer?

Lawyers are admitted by the Bar Association, the prerequisite is in any case the training as a fully qualified lawyer: This means the completion of the law studies with the first state examination and a subsequent legal clerkship, which is concluded with the second state examination. You then apply for admission as a lawyer to the Bar Association for the district in which you want to settle. A lawyer employed by a company is called a “Syndikus”. However, he is not allowed to represent the company in court because he is bound by instructions from his employer. Bachelor's and master's degrees in law also qualify for legal activity in a company, an authority or an association. The so-called “Master of Laws” is often a very international education and is also popular with fully qualified lawyers as a further qualification. The range of law courses on offer is very large: you can study law on state examinations across the board at the major universities in the humanities and social sciences, business law is a course that has been introduced in large numbers at universities of applied sciences since the 1990s. In total, there are around 200 law courses and specializations on offer in Germany

Duration of law studies Fully qualified lawyer

  • 9 semesters (up to the 1st state examination)
  • An additional 2 years (legal traineeship and 2nd state examination)

Duration of studies in law as a bachelor's and / or master's degree

  • 6-7 semesters (Bachelor), whereby the seventh semester is usually the compulsory practical semester that you have to complete in a university of applied sciences courses.
  • 3-4 additional semesters (Master)


  • You need an analytical mind, because lawyers examine a situation step by step. And at the same time you keep an overview of all possible legal factors and alternatives that influence the assessment.
  • A good level of logical thinking will help you: if you got along well with Latin and math in school, that's a good sign.
  • A very good oral and written communication behavior not only helps with the reliable preparation of legal assessments, but also in dealing with clients who are usually not legally trained
  • The course requires a high degree of hard work and self-discipline
  • Legal reasoning requires accuracy, careful work and thinking in context.
  • A confident demeanor creates trust with clients and respect on the part of the other party and in court.
  • Laws, guidelines and regulations change constantly, court rulings formulate possible legal interpretations. As a lawyer, you have internalized the concept of lifelong learning and are always up to date.

In the video: Alexander Stumpf, lawyer

Where can I work as a lawyer?

As a lawyer, you can, on the one hand, become self-employed and offer your services. For this you usually need an office. However, if you want to limit the rental costs, especially in the beginning, you have the option of joining forces with other lawyers within so-called office communities. You then remain independent as a lawyer and only share the office with colleagues. Often, however, there is also a merger of lawyers to form so-called professional associations, which are known as societies or partnerships. These firms also employ additional lawyers as employees. There are partnerships that work regionally and are therefore based in several places (regional partnerships); Especially with these supra-local law firms, the demand for competent lawyers is comparatively high. But you can also hire a lawyer in the legal departments of companies and the public sector, although your specialization is often important in this regard.

Lawyer career and salary

The average monthly income of a lawyer is difficult to determine due to numerous influencing factors. As a guide, you can assume a monthly income of around 3,000 to a maximum of 10,000 euros, with the majority of lawyers - according to relevant surveys - having a gross monthly wage of around 4,800 euros. These figures are based on the corresponding hourly rates for private clients (130 to 150 euros per hour) and for commercial clients (180 and 250 euros). Note that there are blatant regional differences in this regard. In economically less strong regions, in small towns and in rural areas, these hourly rates are difficult to achieve. In addition, salaries vary greatly in terms of work experience and the size of the firm; however, the salaries can be described as gender-neutral. You have the greatest prospect of a lucrative income if you focus on specialist areas as a specialist lawyer. Specialist lawyers are primarily in demand in the areas of criminal law, tax law, medical law, labor law, family law, inheritance law, architectural law, social law, banking and capital law, as well as copyright and medical law. Media, patent and tax lawyers are among the better-paid lawyers. Since the competition and pressure is comparatively intense in this industry, it is not always easy for university graduates to find a well paid job in a law firm. But if you should succeed in making the leap into a top law firm, you can count on a comparatively high income; then an annual salary of over 100,000 euros is quite possible.

What specializations and alternatives are there to becoming a lawyer?

The profession of lawyer offers numerous alternatives. The most important are listed below:

  • jurist
  • notary
  • Legal Assistant
  • Jurist
  • Judge
  • Public prosecutor
  • tax consultant